The goal of orthodontics is to improve the appearance of function of your teeth and jaw, and various kinds of appliances help achieve that goal. Each patient’s treatment plan is unique, but here are some common appliances that orthodontists use to correct oral problems.
Elastics, or rubber bands, are sometimes needed to create force that will help correct your bite. They are often stretched between upper and lower braces, kept in place by attaching them to hooks. For the fastest outcome, strictly following your orthodontist’s directions for wearing the elastics is the best approach. You may experience tenderness at first because your teeth are moving, but it will fade after a few days of consistent wear.
Malocclusions may require the use of appliances like headgear, which attaches to your braces and pulls on both your teeth and jaw to create movement into better positions. There are different types of headgear for different goals, such as the direction of pull needed on your jaw. Often, orthodontists recommend that headgear be worn at night so that there is less embarrassment or hassle associated with the appliance. If your orthodontist suggests headgear is needed for optimum treatment of your condition, it is likely the best way to achieve your orthodontic goals and the guidelines should be followed for use.
Once your braces have done their job and are removed from your teeth, treatment is usually not over. Most of the time, orthodontists provide retainers to help your teeth maintain their new positions. Over time, your teeth will settle into their new spots and your orthodontist may allow you to quit wearing the retainers, but until that time you should follow the directions for consistent use. That is the ideal way to keep your beautiful new smile.